4 Language and Culture Learning Objectives After reading this chapter, you should be able to: Discuss the contrasts between symbolic communication...
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Chapter Outline Hemera/Thinkstock Learning Objectves Afer reading this chapter, you should be able to: 1. Discuss the contrasts between symbolic com - municaTon and sign communicaTon. 2. Contrast human and nonhuman communicaTon. 3. Explain the characterisTcs oF nonverbal communicaTon. 4. De±ne language. 5. Explain the biological basis oF language. 6. Discuss the concept oF linguisTc relaTvity. 7. Discuss the social nature oF language use. 8. Explain the concept oF language Families. 9. Discuss contemporary language diversity.
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CHAPTER 4 Section 4.2 Human Communication Human ways of life are far more varied and complex than those of other animals. This complexity is facilitated by our distinctive ability to communicate the intrica- cies of these lifeways to each new generation of our group. Unlike other animals, we tend to portray our concepts by highly arbitrary but mutually accepted sym- bols, such as those embodied in languages. In this chapter, we will examine this capacity of symbolizing, which is fundamental to the origin and perpetuation of human cultures. 4.1 Linguistic Anthropology A s noted in chapter 1 linguistic anthropology is the study of language and the roles it plays in human social life. It has been an important part of anthropology since the origin of the discipline. Fieldwork in non-Western cultures has always brought anthropological researchers into contact with the languages of the societies they study, and learning the native language is a necessary fieldwork tool. Some anthropologists spe- cialize in linguistic anthropology. They are trained in linguistics so that they can describe, record, and analyze languages that have rarely been studied by others. These are skills that are often useful to cultural anthropologists during fieldwork among speakers of dif- ferent languages than their own. In this chapter, we will examine some of the general characteristics of language and some of the applications of linguistic anthropology to the study of culture. 4.2 Human Communication C ommunication is the transfer of information, concepts, or ideas from one person to another using observable objects or actions, such as gestures and spoken words, that encode meaning. Human communication relies heavily on our ability to cre- ate, manipulate, and understand symbols. Signs and Symbols In human communication, meaning is expressed simultaneously with signs and with symbols. Signs are indexical units of meaning. In other words, their meaning is directly associated with some object, action, or state. Tears, smiles, clenched fists, and agitated ges- tures are all signs, or spontaneous expressions of feelings, needs, or concepts that require little conscious effort or learning to master and interpret. They are natural representations of what they signify. Although signs play a role in human communication, it is the use of symbols in com- municating that sets us apart from other animals and that serves as the foundation for the extremely complex ways of life found in all human groups. Symbols are objects or events that stand for something else. National flags and spoken words, for example, have no inherent significance; their meanings exist only because their users have agreed that they represent certain other objects or events (White, 1971). Thus, symbols have no innate meaning; their use and interpretation must always be learned. Their meanings are not natural but arbitrary in the sense that they are a matter of social consensus.
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Language, status, and identity: Anthropologists believe that language sends messages about who we are, where we come from, and with whom we associate. Based on the readings, explain how language can determine status. Using section 4.8 of the textbook, provide specific examples that illustrate and support your point of view. Your initial post should be at least 250 words in length. Support your claims with examples from the required materials and/or other scholarly sources. Cite your sources in the body of your post and provide a complete reference for each source used at the end of it Please provide the answer below:
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